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In 2018, 88% of Massachusetts’ drug overdose deaths involved at least one opioid, and the total number of opioid overdose deaths in the state jumped from less than 500 in 2000 to almost 2,000 in 2018.1 Prescription opioids may be what started the initial problem with people becoming hooked on these medications and not getting prescription pill addiction treatment to stop. Instead, they started turning to harder opioids like heroin. Now in more recent years, synthetic opioids like fentanyl have been the driving force behind this spike.
Six and a half kilograms of fentanyl and pills as well as $13,000 in cash were confiscated by Massachusetts State Police after three drugs busts in the Merrimack Valley in two days. The estimated street value of the fentanyl totaled over $1.4 million.2
The Massachusetts fentanyl busts came after police targeted two major drug trafficking operations in the Merrimack Valley as well as a smaller drug operation in Fall River. The first bust came after police found a shoebox filled with 1,534 grams of fentanyl in the car of someone they had been surveilling in Fall River.1 This was followed by a fentanyl bust in the Merrimack Valley after police searched a suspected narcotics dealer’s home and discovered fentanyl, meth, oxycodone, and Xanax.2 Details on the other fentanyl bust in the Merrimack Valley have not been released. Altogether, several people have been arrested and await charges.
While police are relieved that they were able to get a huge supply of this deadly drug off the street and out of the hands of people in the community, the amount of fentanyl being circulated in the area is alarming.
For a long time, heroin had been the biggest opioid of concern for Massachusetts State Police, but fentanyl has been rising in popularity in more recent years. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be prescribed for severe pain, but it is also distributed illegally on the streets. In several cases, other drugs are laced with this dangerous painkiller without the user’s knowledge. 50 times more potent than heroin, fentanyl is far more dangerous and has a higher propensity for overdose. In 2018, synthetic opioids like fentanyl were believed to be involved in 1,806 of the 1,991 opioid overdose deaths in the state.1 If synthetic opioids continue to rise in use, it could spell trouble for the Bay State.
No matter what type of opioid someone is abusing, these drugs can be dangerous. As an opioid addiction treatment center in Massachusetts, we help people overcome their dependency on these various types of drugs so that they can regain control and be safe once more.